Park Place Plaza, Stevenage

Description: Part office block conversion, part new build into 204 luxury apartments.
Client: Park Place Plaza Ltd/Ashe Construction
ThermaSkirt Profile: Deco BMe2 & BMe3
The Challenge
Converting unloved office developments was a key plank in the Governments strategy of brownfield regeneration in town centres, and planning laws were relaxed on their change of use.

But converting run-down open plan offices into affordable desirable residences isn’t always straightforward as insulation levels are often poor, designed-for-desk height windows usually made them smaller & higher than current market trends, and the internal floor space to external wall area ratio can make apartments dark and dingy.

When Park Place Plaza was earmarked for development, the architects GSA Studios were keen to ensure that much larger glazed walls and where possible patio doors onto exterior balconies were incorporated to create as much natural light and an airy open feel as was practicable.

In doing so, the remaining wall space became a premium and so the original specification of wall hung electric panel heaters was revisited.

The M&E consultants Synergy appreciated that installing large glazed areas and accessible balconies made wall heaters problematic as they made furniture layouts more difficult. They had already ruled out underfloor heating as the main structure of the building was up, and any increase in floor height or mass loading would have meant a complete re-design. Someone at Synergy then recalled using skirting heating on a previous project and googled “skirting board heating”

William O’Reilly:

“Space is always a premium commodity in any office redevelopment as much has to be given over to multiple services to each apartment, greater circulation space and of course fire safety and exit routes. With the larger windows required to make the apartments attractive, we were really fighting to find a spot for the panel heaters. Underfloor was a non-starter, and so when someone brought up the idea of skirting heating we quickly saw the advantages.”
The Solution

Manufactured in the UK by DiscreteHeat Ltd, ThermaSkirt is a radiant heating system that is designed to replicate a skirting board profile. Made from aluminum, the warm water from the primary heat source passes through integral tubes on the back of the profile. The front face then heats up and radiates heat - from a low level all around the room.

Alternatively, the electric Skirting version is heated by a specially developed heating cable that will not over-heat, even if covered over by blankets, clothing etc. In this instance, Ashe Construction opted for the all-electric ThermaSkirt e as there was no option to supply gas and gas boilers to each unit.

ThermaSkirt frees the wall from radiators, maximising usable space and enables design features such as patio doors.
The Result

Working with DiscreteHeat Technical Training Support, the M&E Contractor was trained how to install the system, and a team of 2 men were able to fit and commission a typical 2 bedroom apartment in a day. Although this initially seems longer than installing an electric radiator, as the skirting boards are effectively installed pre-painted at the same time, the cost of installation was very similar to the radiator and painted MDF.

Being ‘above ground’ ThermaSkirt works with any floor construction or finish; tile, laminate, carpet or wood and if it’s a retro-fit project can often use the existing radiator pipeworks or storage radiator electrics.

As of March 2019, over 80% of the development had been sold in less than 6 months.

Update January 2020:

"Good afternoon Martin,

As you know we installed your electric thermaskirt at 200 apartments across 2 blocks and we are now outside of the 12 month defect period for the first block and just coming up to the 12 month defect period on the second block. I am pleased to report there have been no major issues.

I must say Discrete Heat provided good communication throughout the project to ensure we had everything. We were also provided the necessary training and assistance throughout the project so that we could install correctly.

On the post completion side Discrete Heat have been very responsive and helpful with any minor issues that have been reported since we completed. To be honest the majority of the calls we have had since we completed have been user error and other than that it has been the odd issue which is to be expected given the amount that we installed. When this has been the case Discrete Heat have been very efficient to rectify in a timely and effective manner.

Many Thanks

Daniel Allison Contracts Manager"